Feature Article

The Games of our Youth: Baseball

by Melissa Minners

            Baseball season has begun!  Hooray!  I simply love baseball and every winter, I wait impatiently for that moment when the weather clears and the crack of the bat signifies the start of the wonderful season of baseball.  When we were kids, as long as the weather was good, we would find a way to play baseball.  If you didnít have a bat, you used your hands to power the ball over peopleís heads.  No bases?  No worries Ė street landmarks stood for bases.  You just had to make sure you touched each one on your way to home plate.  But when the weather was bad, what was there to do?  Play baseball at home, of course!

            My first baseball game was an imaginative game I created with my own baseball cards.  It was a complicated mess that ended up ruining a couple of cards that would have been worth a ton of money nowadays.  My second baseball game was a handheld electronic game from Mattel.  The little tan and green Mattel Electronics Baseball was a source of entertainment from hours.  Little red blips signified everything from base runners to pitches.  You had to time things just right to hit the ball, but if you did it right, you could hit a homerun.  After a while, homerun hitting was inevitable.  You couldnít control the pitches, but you could control the hitting and running.  It was fun, but once you really got a hang of the game, you would start to run the hitting scores into the double digits and the game became a tad boring.

            Then came the Atari 5200 and its RealSports Baseball.  This game was great.  You could control the hits, pitches and base running.  You could play versus the computer or another player.  I loved the fact that you could also control whether or not the balls, strikes or homeruns were announced by a computer voice or boops and beeps.  You had a choice between being the visiting blue team or the home red team and you could select difficulty levels as well.  Since the team members had no name, this made it easy for my brother and I to invent whole teams, using favorite characters from television shows.  We played whole seasons and actually kept stats for the year.  It was great fun.

            Once we got a computer, it was time to buy a computer baseball game.  Thus, I did some research and found the perfect game for our Commodore 64 MicroLeague Baseball from the MicroLeague Sports Association was tremendous fun!  This game featured 20 teams of real players.  You could select from the 1927 Yankees, the 1969 Mets, the 1955 Dodgers, A.L. Greats, N.L Greats and more.  This was one of the few games which featured possible player injuries and arguing with umpires over calls.  There was a running commentary of each play featured on the scoreboard.  That was cool, but the best part of the game was the ability to play your favorite World Series winning teams against one another.


            Then came the invention of the Sony Playstation and playing baseball video games would never be the same again.  The Playstation baseball games were 10 times more sophisticated both graphically and playing-wise than the video games of old.  My favorites were MLB Baseball and EA Sports Triple Play.  Both games had running commentaries by well-known baseball announcers.  Both games allowed you to create your own player, so I would always create a second baseman known as Melissa Minners.  They also gave you the option of trying out for the team as a minor leaguer.  If you made the team, you would be allowed to enter that player on the team and play them as often as you wanted.  You could trade players and create your own teams.  I would always play as the Mets and would recreate the rosters of whichever year I was playing in.  Playstation 2 brought the invention of new versions of favorite games of the original Playstation.  Now, you could not only create your own player and see them through to the major league season, but you also had to fight to keep that player on the team in a new career mode.  If your player didnít perform up to par, you could find yourself traded to another team or sent back down to the minors.  At the end of the season, you would be offered your choice of contracts depending on how well you played.  These were cool features, but the coolest feature was that the computer not only kept your new playerís stats for the one season, but it would continue to record the stats for the seasons to come! 

            I canít wait to see what kind of new baseball games come out as even more enhanced graphics and more advanced technology become available, but for now, Iíll settle for some good old fashioned televised baseball games!  Happy Opening Day, everyone!


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